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Venezuela: Jose Ignacio Cabrujas and His Mark on Society

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<p>Thirteen years after his death, Venezuelans still wonder what the writer José Ignacio Cabrujas would say about all the incredible turn of events and anecdotes that have taken place since the start of the Bolivarian Revolution.<a href= Cabrujas was a outstanding playwright, theater director, actor, TV writer, and above all, a humorist and a critic of Venezuelan society. As a leading critic of his time, he managed to build, with irony and humor, a sort of a mirror of the common people. He's also remembered for changing the soap opera genre in Venezuela, a very important part of daily life, from a shallow distraction for housewives to real cultural commentary. He also participated in a very popular publication called El Sádico Ilustrado / The Erudite Sadist [es] in which several intellectuals of the time published their humorous views on the country. He wrote:

Los venezolanos hemos generado muchos mitos en relación a nosotros mismos, porque los venezolanos somos admiradores de los mitos, porque no entendemos nuestra historia. Como ni siquiera la conocemos, nos hemos visto obligados a sustituir la historia por la mitología, que fue lo mismo que le pasó a los griegos, que tampoco conocían su historia, aunque por razones muy distintas. Los venezolanos tenemos mitos, en los cuales creemos tanto que los convertimos en actos de fe (…) Creemos que somos un pueblo vivo en el sentido de astutos, de pícaros, de una gran destreza y de una gran habilidad (…) Un país que no ha logrado resolver un enigma, un país que le entran 15 mil millones de dólares y tiene 20 millones de habitantes, ¿por qué este país tiene la crisis que tiene?, no le cabe en la cabeza a nadie, ¿cómo pueden considerarse vivos, astutos, hábiles a los ciudadanos que viven en este país?

We, the Venezuelans, have generated a lot of myths in what it comes to ourselves, because we admire myths, because we don't understand our history. And since we don't even know it, we have found ourselves forced to substitute history for mythology, something that also happened to the Greeks, who did not know their history, but for different reasons. We believe in myths, in myths we believe so strongly that we turn them into acts of faith. (…) We believe ourselves to be vivacious, in the sense of being shrewd, cunning and of great ability (but…) This is a country that has not been able to solve an enigma, a country that earns 15 billion dollars and who have 20 million inhabitants, why should it have such an economical crisis? That cannot be explained. How can this people believe themselves to be vivacious, cunning and full of abilities?

From La viveza Criolla. Destreza, mínimo esfuerzo o sentido del humor, 1995

..el venezolano es un Estado mágico, en el que los políticos son grandes magos que han sacado la realidad de un sombrero gracias a la riqueza petrolera, que tiene la potencia de un mito.

The Venezuelan State is a magical one. In it, politicians are the magicians that have pulled reality out of a hat thanks to oil riches, something with a lot of potential for myths.

Jamseg [es] wonders how Cabrujas would see Venezuelan society today:

Seguramente, no haya estadística pero recuerdo haber declamado a una docena de personas si viviese Cabrujas que diría sobre el referéndum… (al comprar el libro El país según Cabrujas de un librero) recibo mi bolsita y con sus ojos, una felicitación tremenda por llevarme a casa un trozo del pensamiento de un hombre esencial para entender este país.

I'm sure there are no statistics, but I remember having heard more of a dozen people wondering what would Cabrujas say if he were alive now, at the moment of the Referendum… (when she bought the book Our Country According to Cabrujas from a bookseller) I receive my bag, and a look of congratulations (from the vendor) for taking home some thoughts of a man essential to the comprehension of this country.

In Blogs de Telenovelas [es] there is information the way Cabrujas adapted literary works for use in the soap operas, since soap operas usually are more focused on the beauty and voluptuousness of the models that play the main roles, the blogger quotes an analyst that points out:

Todas y cada una de las telepresencias sobresalen entonces como la suma de valores étnicos individualizados más vigentes que nunca (…) no estamos hablando de la mera filmación de lo escrito. (…) Cabrujas se ha encargado de engordar los diálogos (…)

Each and every one of the “television presences” stand out as a sum of individual ethnic values that are more valid than ever. We are not talking about a mere filming of what is written (Cabrujas…) expands the dialogue (…)

El Muro te Lamenta [es] says

J. I. Cabrujas ha sido una de las más descomunales mentalidades, vocaciones públicas, pasiones por el acto creativo, capacidades de trabajo y entrega para cultivar disciplinas y géneros tan disímiles, que hayamos tenido en el siglo XX venezolano. (…) de sus grandes obsesiones –la de tratar de comprender sin trampas ni edulcoraciones cómo éramos, o cómo somos realmente los venezolanos, y la de identificar las patologías nacionales en el ejercicio del poder– le llevaron a conclusiones terribles sobre nuestro pasado y nuestro destino (…) el extremo de personalismo, populismo, autoritarismo y culto a la personalidad al que hemos arribado en el presente.

J. I. Cabrujaas has been one of the most outstanding minds, public vocations, and passions for creative acts, capacities to work and devotion to a variety of disciplines and genres that had been present in the 20th century of Venezuela. (…) Two of his obsessions – trying to understand without tricks or euphemisms how we were, or how we really are, and to identify the national pathologies in the exercises of power, which brought him to terrible conclusions about our past and our destiny (…) the extreme cult of personality, populism, authoritarianism and personal interests for power to where e currently arrived.

The author of the blog Perra nostalgia [es] remembers her encounters with the neighbour…

Un día de ésos, antes de aquel sábado, me lo tropecé en el estacionamiento. Me envalentoné y le dije “algún día te contaré mi vida, es mejor que todas tus novelas”. El me replicó al instante, con esa voz roncota de locutor de otoño: “todos dicen lo mismo”.

One of those days, before that Saturday (when he died) I ran into him in the parking lot. I got brave and told him “some day I'll tell you all about my life, it's better than all of your soaps”. He answered instantly, with that thick radio voice of autumn “everybody says the same thing.”

La Dueña, one of his most popular soaps is based on The Count of Montecristo and tells the story of Adriana Rigores, a young orphan that inherits a great fortune from his father,

Most of his works can be found here [es]

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